Opa-locka gets visit from Thailand Ministry of Justice
Opa-locka officials gave Thailand delegation a South Florida-style meal during a recent visit to city.
SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD
A delegation from the Thailand Ministry of Justice dined with staff from the Miami-Dade Juvenile Services Department (JSD) and Opa-locka government officials during a luncheon on Aug. 4, at the Jazz Café & Grille in the city's Municipal Complex.
The Thai delegation was in South Florida to engage in activities that reflect the diversity in Miami-Dade and study JSD's model on juvenile justice.
While visiting programs and agencies in several areas of the Miami-Dade, they were scheduled to tour and dine in at the new restaurant, 780 Fisherman St.
The Thailand Ministry of Justice made a request for the JSD, to assist them between July 26 and Aug. 11 with a three year project to reform juvenile justice and create a front end system.
The JSD was lauded at a national Juvenile Justice Summit last year and designated a model by the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice.
JSD wanted the Thai delegation to experience the true ``taste'' of our culture through some of our traditional dishes and historic communities.
Although Chef Dwight Barnes is known for his abilities to cater international cuisine, JSD officials said the visitors were interested in sampling local cultural foods. So the restaurant prepared several of the most-requested items on its menu.
As a result, the delegation was treated to brown stew chicken, turkey wings, bar-be-cue spare ribs, fried chicken, rice, macaroni & cheese, black-eyed peas, collard greens, spinach and a variety of cakes.
The multidisciplinary team is studying the partnerships that JSD has developed with providers, programs, agencies and communities in an effort to reduce juvenile arrests.
One of these programs is Here's Help North, 15100 NW 27th Ave., one of Miami-Dade County's residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities for young adults ages 13 and older. The center has been praised by the Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Children and Families (DCF), and Probation and Parole for its treatment, educational and preventive services.
The delegation was most impressed with Historic City Hall and other sights with Moorish revival architecture, built between 1925 and 1928.
The guest were also quite intrigued with the ``No Ifs, Ands or Butts'' signs, which warn youth that it is unlawful to inhabit city property or facilities wearing saggy pants.
The visitors giggled as they snapped photos of the posters depicting kids with their pants hanging low. ``It was interesting to hear that they have some of the same kind of challenges with their young people and are studying to use our programs as a model for their programs,'' Mayor Joseph L. Kelley said.
According to Carol Brown, a supervisor at JSD, ``The City of Opa-locka really rolled out the royal carpet, from the `welcome' sign with the Thai translation and their flag adorned, to the dishes which the delegation may be unable to pronounce, but certainly did enjoy eating.''
City Manager Bryan K. Finnie commented, ``As the City of Opa-locka continues to open more reputable and refined businesses like the Jazz Café & Grille, it may well become a tradition for the city to host more guests from abroad, especially with the 2010 Super Bowl and other national and international events heading in our direction.''
Before departing, members of the Thailand Delegation expressed to the translator that Opa-locka was one of their best stops in South Florida.